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Prison operator withdraws gift to support the naming rights of FAU’s stadium

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Florida Atlantic’s stadium will no longer be sponsored by a prison system.

After weeks of protests by students, faculty, alumni and groups such as the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition, the GEO Group has yanked its $6 million gift to purchase the naming rights to the stadium.

The GEO Group owns several private correctional facilities and GEO Group Chairman and CEO George Zolee is an FAU alumnus.

"What was originally intended as a gesture of GEO's goodwill to financially assist the University's athletic scholarship program has surprisingly evolved into an ogling distraction to both of our organizations," Zolee said in an official release. "We employ many FAU graduates and Boca Raton community members. We take pride running a well-respected company and are proud of our long-term support of the University."

The Geo Group’s biggest opponents, some of whom picketed outside the office of University president Mary Jane Saunders, accused the group of various human rights violations throughout their facilities.

Even though Saunders tried to calm protests by saying the gift was a way to help out with the “many fiscal challenges” FAU was facing, protesters were not swayed.

FAU’s Stadium opened in 2011 and has been without a title sponsor since. The $6 million gift would have given the school some much-needed wiggle room, but it will now have to get that funding somewhere else.

Unfortunately, that also means the popular nickname for the stadium “Owlcatraz” will no longer be used.

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